The dispensary

To provide each child with an equal chance to achieve self-fulfillment.

What we do

  • The Montreal Diet Dispensary is a community organization whose mission is to foster optimal infant health through social nutrition interventions with pregnant women in precarious situations, one pregnant woman, infant and family at a time.

Reduce the number of babies born with low birth weights.

Encourage and support breastfeeding.

Empower families to take charge of their physical and mental well-being; foster their social integration.

Make information and training on subjects related to perinatal nutrition accessible to practitioners throughout Quebec.

Social nutrition approach

Based on nutritional recommendations adapted to meeting the needs of pregnant women living in difficult circumstances and aimed at reducing poverty, the social nutrition approach takes into account a number of health determinants (social, economic, and cultural status; access to health care; etc.) in order to provide interdisciplinary interventions enabling women to give birth to healthy babies, to nurture their babies’ optimal development, and to flourish as parents and community citizens.

The Dispensary’s social nutrition program is based on the Higgins© nutritional intervention method, a scientifically proven method that focuses on the pregnancy period.

Social nutrition also covers the first few months of the newborn’s life and is characterized by:

Needs analysis

An analysis of the needs of each pregnant woman living in precarious conditions

Action plan

Implementation of a personalized, interdisciplinary action plan that includes counselling, support, and nutritional rehabilitation.

Breastfeeding support

Active breastfeeding support

Group activities

Preparing for childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting skills, healthy eating on a limited budget, child nutrition, and access to drop-in daycare

Inclusion of family members

Inclusion of family members in the intervention plan

Psychosocial and community support

Peer support, access to a network of organizations providing support and assistance


To provide each child with an equal chance to achieve self-fulfillment.
  • Because we are guided by notions of human dignity and we support each individual’s free will and commitment to be the architect of his or her own fulfilment, we demonstrate humanism.
  • At the Dispensary, fairness is exhibited through access to the free services we provide to pregnant women in precarious situations and to new mothers, without judgment and regardless of their background or living conditions, as well as the way in which we integrate these women into our organizated processess. The principle of fairness is also reflected in the relationships between our team members.
  • At the Dispensary, commitment, innovation and participative collaboration are showcased by the organization’s members and staff, as well as the mothers we serve, the members of their families and others close to them, when they combine their experience, expertise and commitment to provide services of the highest quality.
  • When our organization, pregnant women in precarious situations and their family members find the strength to bounce back and regain confidence in the future after being faced with difficult situations, we call this resilience.
  • From six months before birth to six months after : provide nutritional counselling to pregnant women based on the Higgins Method©, offer breastfeeding support and provide parents with pre- and postnatal group activities.
  • Work with complementary partners before, during and after our involvement in the lives of the families we serve.
  • Continue to improve our practices through innovation, assessment and documentation.
  • Highlight the experiences and skills of Dispensary families.
  • To consult our strategic direction 2018-2022, please click ici


    Slide Julie Paquette, MBA, Dt.P. Directrice générale
    Responsable de la protection
    des renseignements personnels
    Slide Stéphanie Tremblay, M.SC., DT.P. Directrice des programmes et impact social Slide Olivia Borgatta Conseillère en communication Slide Fahd Rami Conseiller en communication Slide TAMMY TRAN, DT.P. Coordonnatrice - Services aux familles Slide Catherine Vézina, Dt.P. Chargée de projet pour Nourrir la vie Slide Julie Delorme, DT.P. Chargée de projet - PPNE Slide Alessia Gadoua, DT.P. Chargée de projet - Clientèle autochtone Slide Maria Hiriart, M.S. Ed. Coordonnatrice de l'administration Slide Selma Buckett, IBCLC Consultante en périnatalité et en lactation Slide Maryam Boulad, DT.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Isabelle Dubé, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste, membre du Registre des droits acquis de l’OTSTCFQ Slide Lorrance Fréchette-Doyon Intervenante sociale et communautaire Slide Maude Guévin, DT.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Catherine Labelle, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Suzanne Lepage, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Zoé Mekhoukh Intervenante sociale et communautaire Slide Andréa McCarthy, M.Sc., Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Karen Medeiros, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide France Proulx Alonzo, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Catherine Royer, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Dina Salonina, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste Slide Ouardia Zeggane, Dt.P. Diététiste/nutritionniste


    Slide Roxane Girard Présidente
    Gestionnaire dans le secteur culturel
    Slide Jocelyne Pinsonneault Vice-présidente
    Gestionnaire - conseil
    Slide Julie Turcotte Trésorière
    Analyste - MTA CPA
    Slide Johanne Côté Secrétaire
    Directrice générale retraitée
    Slide Isabelle Tremblay, PH.D. Administratrice
    Psychologue organisationnelle - Behavior Interactive
    Slide ASTRID BICAMUMPAKA SHEMA, MD Administratrice
    Médecin - Hôpital Pierre-Le Gardeur
    Slide MARIO LALANCETTE, DT.P. Administrateur
    Directeur Stratégie et communications - AQDFL
    Slide Gabrielle Marquis-Beaudoin Administratrice
    Slide Marie-Josée Côté Administratrice
    Directrice - Propulsion Québec



    In 1879, Mrs. Emily F. De Witt initiated the first actions of the Dispensary.

    In 1879, Emily F. De Witt heads up a volunteer group that begins to provide a new service: preparation and distribution of nutritious meals (broth, meat jelly, wine jelly and bread pudding) to many destitute and ill Montrealers referred by a doctor. The first year help was given to 300 people.

    The Dispensary was one of the first community organizations to be created in Montreal and to set up what was later called Meals on Wheels. Since then, the Dispensary has come a long way, always driven by the will to help families in difficulty, to innovate, to adapt our interventions in favor of the optimal development of children and to contribute to the fight against poverty, by promoting the birth of healthy babies!


    In the 1950's and under the leadership of Mrs. Agnes C. Higgins, a dietician by education, the Dispensary developed a method of nutritional and social intervention.

    She developed the “Higgins Method”© which coupled corrective nutrition, motivational strategies and extended support based on a special relationship between the expectant mother and her dietitian. She also ensured that this method was proven effective by instituting a study in collaboration with the Royal Victoria Hospital.


    Today, the Dispensary helps approximately 900 vulnerable pregnant women each year to get adequate nutrition during their pregnancy in order to improve their chances of giving birth to a healthy baby!

    The Dispensary is at the origin of the Olo programs in Quebec and has also inspired the development of programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in the United States and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP).


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